Michigan basketball is having a good month.
Last week, the Big Blue won the program’s first Big Ten Tournament since 1998 by defeating three of the conference’s top four teams. That performance vaulted the Wolverines to a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and they quickly validated the committee’s generosity by dispatching No. 10 Oklahoma State and No. 2 Louisville to reach the Sweet 16.
This run is the type that often earns coaches fresh extensions. Funny thing is, Michigan headman John Beilein was feeling his seat warm up only six weeks ago.
It was around this time last year that the #FireBeilein hashtag began heating up among the Michigan fan base.
This fan, @Kaylen2009 (AKA “#RIPChadTough”), really really wanted Beilein fired…
Entering this season, Beilein had led Michigan to six NCAA Tournament appearances in nine seasons in Ann Arbor, including two Elite 8 berths and a national title game loss in 2013. But when the Wolverines stumbled out of the gate this season, doubts began cropping up all over the internet.
On January 11, Michigan lost 85-69 to Illinois to fall to 11-6 on the season and 1-3 in the Big Ten. The Wolverines were headed to the NIT, and it was purportedly all Beilein’s fault. Some writers began wondering if it was time to give the coach the ax.
Battle for a NIT home game. #Illini #Michigan https://t.co/eFDBzpwsq9
— Nathan Baliva (@nbaliva) January 12, 2017
This is the roster Beilein built. It's the system Beilein runs. These problems are Beilein's problems. And they don't seem to be going away.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 12, 2017
@ChiSportsGuy @mgoblog Like Beilein–great representative for the school. But might be time for a change. Too much talent to be this bad
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) January 12, 2017
The next day, the SB Nation blog Big Ten Powerhouse ran a post headlined “Yes, It’s Officially Time To Wonder Where Things Are Heading In Ann Arbor.” Here’s a notable passage:
We still need to wait to see how things finish this season, but Michigan’s loss to Illinois on Wednesday night felt like a watershed moment. Although it’s still far too early to call for any changes at the top, it’s time to start wondering where this train is heading.
After that loss to Illinois, Michigan won three of four, staving off calls for Beilein’s firing, but when the Wolverines dropped back-to-back games to rivals Michigan State and Ohio State, the doubts came back.
It's time for John Beilein to go.
— Michigan Nation24/7 (@247Wolverines) February 5, 2017
In a since-deleted Twitter poll, Michigan blog The Wolverine Daily asked followers if Beilein should be canned—and 61 percent voted yes.
#Michigan #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/emKEDindwI
— Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed) March 17, 2017
Even a blowout win over Michigan State days later brought snark and smarm.
This win is huge for Michigan's NIT seeding.
— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) February 8, 2017
MSU is down 26 to Michigan. That's how bad Izzo's team is this year…and Michigan is terrible.
Two NIT teams going at it.
— Carron J. Phillips (@carronJphillips) February 8, 2017
As it turned out, that blowout victory over the Spartans launched Michigan on a season-saving run. Since then, the Wolverines have lost only two games: one in overtime and one on a miracle buzzer-beater.
Now, Michigan is arguably the hottest team in the country, with only a winnable game against Oregon separating it from the Elite 8.
Remember our friend @Kaylen2009? Well, retweets say it all…
Safe to say no one is calling for John Beilein’s firing right now.